In his fourth Euroleague season this decade with four different clubs, Lubos Barton of Regal FC Barcelona has gained experience to spare and has developed into a classic "glue" player, the kind who fills in whatever his team needs - move the ball, rebound, shoot, defend - at a given moment. There is little doubt that Barcelona will need all of Barton's experience and versatility against a familiar foe, Tau Ceramica, in their upcoming five-game playoff series. "The homecourt advantage…might not be decisive," Barton says, "but it will surely give us an edge."
In what sort of shape and condition does Regal FC Barcelona arrive to the quarterfinals?
"I think that we are coming very strong into the quarterfinals of the Euroleague. We have overcome a tough first-game loss in the Top 16 against Madrid to finish our group first, clinching the homecourt advantage. I think that speaks enough about our shape as a team."
What is the most important thing to consider about your opponent, Tau Ceramica, in your opinion?
"Tau has a well-balanced team and they are very experienced. They are very strong at each position and they also have good backups for each position. Maybe they are not as deep as our team, but they use their main players very well. It is a tough team to beat."
You have already faced Tau several times this season. Which are their key players and what problems to they present?
"As I said, Tau has many good players and they are able to exploit opponents' weaknesses. In my opinion, the strongest point for Tau is their starting point guard, Pablo Prigioni, who has been in Vitoria for many years and it is the team's leader. If we can contain him, we will make their whole team a lot weaker."
What does Barcelona have to do to overcome Tau?
"To score at least one point more per game than they do! Ha, ha. Now, seriously, our strongest weapon is our defense and we have to rely on it, as we did so far this season. Tau is a very good offensive team, which will definitively present a challenge for us. I think if we can play 40 minutes concentrated, we will come out on top. Plus, we will have the homecourt advantage, which might not be decisive, but it will surely give us an edge."
What will be the keys to the series on both sides?
"For Barça, we need to establish our home court. So far, we are undefeated at home and we need that it stays that way. Tau needs to utilize its strengths - exploit the pick-'n'-roll game with Prigioni and Splitter, establish the low post for Mickeal and McDonald (Splitter as well), and of course rely on hot shooting from their two best shooters/scorers, Rakocevic and Teletovic."